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Fast Start Lifts FIU Over Softball

May 3, 2014

Box Score (Game 1) | Box Score (Game 2)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Mississippi softball team dropped a doubleheader to Conference USA newcomer FIU. The Panthers jumped out to early leads in both games and the Golden Eagles were unable to recover. FIU claimed the first game 17-4 (five innings), before earning a 10-0 win (five innings) in game two.

Southern Miss and FIU square off in the final regular season game of the year on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 12:00 p.m. The game will be Senior Day for the Golden Eagles and after the game, Southern Miss will honor its seniors Taylor Beck and Mackenzie Sher for their efforts on the softball field.

Offensively, the Golden Eagles bats were stifled by the Panthers. The Black and Gold made contact, only striking out eight times in two games, but were unable to generate their normal production. True freshman Tori Rouse recorded her first collegiate hit in game one. Rouse broke up the FIU no-hit bid in game one with a single to the shortstop. Sher followed with a two-RBI single later in the inning for the only other hit of the game. Rouse, Meaghen Nelson, Michelle Stringer and Priscilla Burns each scored runs, while Buns and Peyton Garner combined with Sher for the RBI.

In the circle, Southern Miss used a trio of pitchers in game one. Shelbee Rodgers earned the start, but struggled early. She worked 0.1 innings allowing five runs on three hits with two walks. She was relieved by Samantha Robles who tossed 0.2 innings allowing two runs on three hits. Kaitlin Wilson closed out the game tossing 4.0 innings. She allowed 10 runs (eight earned runs) on 12 hits with no walks and a team-high three strikeouts.

In game two, Robles worked a complete game in the circle, going 5.0 innings allowing 10 runs (six earned runs) on 13 hits with a walk.

Game 1 Recap
FIU jumped out quickly on Southern Miss in the top of the first inning. The leadoff batter for the Panthers tripled to left center field to start the game. The next batter plated the runner with a sacrifice fly to put the visitors up 1-0. FIU used a double and back-to-back walks to load the bases with just one out. The Panthers used an infield single to add a run, leaving the bases loaded. Southern Miss went to the bullpen, bringing in Robles. A pitch got away from Robles, as she hit the first batter she faced, driving in a run. The Black and Gold recorded the second out of the inning on a sacrifice fly to right field. Three consecutive singles scored three runs to extend the FIU advantage. The Golden Eagles used a groundout to end the inning, but trailed 7-0 before stepping to the plate.

The Panthers extended their advantage to 12-0 with five runs in the top of the third inning. FIU used six hits and an error by Southern Miss to plate the five runs. In the inning, FIU's Krystal Garcia hit a home run.

FIU notched five more runs on five more hits and another USM error in the top of the fourth inning. The inning was highlighted for the Panthers by a three-run home run to center field by Shelby Graves.

Southern Miss showed some life in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Rouse stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter. The true freshman slipped a ball into no-man's land in between third base and short for her first collegiate base hit. The base hit broke up the no-hit attempt by the Panthers. Nelson was hit by a pitch to give the Golden Eagles a pair of base runners. The two runners advanced 60 feet on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Garner reached base on a fielding error by FIU, scoring Rouse for the first run of the game for the Golden Eagles. Arielle Pollock re-entered the game to run at first base. Michelle Stringer walked to load the bases and continue the inning. Burns pinch hit and drew a RBI walk with the bases loaded. Morgan McKeever continued the inning, reaching on a fielder's choice. On the play, the Panthers retired the lead runner for the second out of the inning. Sher followed with a two-RBI single off the third base bag. Burns and Stringer came around to score, trimming the deficit to 17-4. The Panthers closed out the game with a fielder's choice to secure the victory.

Game 2 Recap
Game two started better for the Golden Eagles, but the Panthers once again jumped out to an early advantage. In the first inning, Southern Miss retired the first two batters before surrendering an infield single. The Panthers used a RBI double coupled with a RBI triple to jump out to an early 2-0 lead.

The Panthers added two runs on a hit and a pair of Golden Eagles in to top of the second inning. FIU notched three runs on three hits and a USM error in the third inning to extend its lead. Leading 7-0, the Panthers put the cap on the game with three runs on five hits in the top of the fifth inning. The inning began with a solo home run by Aleima Lopez.

Southern Miss was unable to mount a retort, falling 10-0 in five innings. FIU's pitcher Shelby Graves finished the game with a walk and five strikeouts and did not allow a hit in the game, thwarting any potential comeback attempt.

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